SMOKING even just a small amount of cannabis increases your risk of coronavirus, doctors are warning.
They say the drug causes inflammation in the lungs which could significantly reduce your ability to fight Covid-19 – a respiratory disease.
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It comes after The Sun revealed cannabis dealers are cashing in on the coronavirus pandemic with prices for the drug soaring as users “sit at home on full pay”.
Now, experts at the American Lung Association (ALA) have issued a warning about people smoking cannabis during the coronavirus outbreak.
They say smoking marijuana, even just occasionally, can increase your risk for more severe complications of Covid-19.
Pulmonologist Dr Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, told CNN: “What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause.
“Now you have some airway inflammation and you get an infection on top of it. So, yes, your chance of getting more complications is there.”
On top of this, the ALA say if you smoke cannabis it will make it more difficult for a doctor to diagnose your Covid-19 symptoms.
This is because a dry cough is a key sign of Covid-19, and any cough caused by smoking cannabis could easily mimic that symptom – making diagnosis more difficult.
Dr Mitchell Glass, a pulmonologist and spokesperson for the American Lung Association, added: “You don’t want to do anything that’s going to confound the ability of healthcare workers to make a rapid, accurate assessment of what’s going on with you.”
A top US doctor has also slammed people for choosing to smoke cannabis during this pandemic – saying it’s like driving home in difficult conditions after having a drink at restaurant.
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Marty Brueggemann, the Chief medical officer at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital, told KIMA TV: “Let’s say on the way to the restaurant you pass two speed traps and it starts snowing, now as you’re thinking about having that one drink you realise you have to drive though two speed traps and a blizzard to get home, you may take a different approach to having that glass of wine.”
Last month it was revealed that the cost for an ounce of weed is said to have spiked to around £250 in some parts of pandemic hit Britain, up over £100 from its usual price.
Not only are cannabis users at risk – but health bosses have warned smokers are also 14 times more likely to develop coronavirus.
Public Health England (PHE) revealed that puffing cigarettes can also put family members at higher risk of Covid-19 too.
Professor John Newton, PHE’s director of health, said that in light of the “unprecedented” pandemic sweeping the globe, “there has never been a more important time to stop smoking, not only for your own health but to protect those around you”.
Smoking can cause damage to the lungs and airways – and Covid-19 attacks the respiratory system, health officials say.
They also point to a “small but highly impactful” survey from China which finds that smokers with Covid-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe disease.
The study looked at the factors which led to the progression of Covid-19 pneumonia in patients at three hospitals in Wuhan, China – where the first cases of coronavirus were detected late last year.
A “history of smoking” was among the factors which were identified by the study which took place between December 30 last year and January 15.
Age, maximum body temperature on admission and respiratory failure were among other notable factors, according to the study, which was published in the Chinese Medical Journal.
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These results “can be used to further enhance the ability of management of Covid-19 pneumonia”, it concluded.
PHE also says the virus is given an easy route of entry by the repetitive hand to mouth movement used by smokers.
Prof Newton told smokers that “it is never too late to quit, no matter your age” and the body will continue to repair the longer you stay smoke-free.
The elimination of carbon monoxide from the body is among the immediate benefits of quitting smoking.
People should find that their lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris, PHE says.
Breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes begin to relax after 72 hours of quitting smoking and blood circulation improves, making physical activity like walking and running easier within 12 weeks of giving up the habit.
Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “Now, more than ever, smokers can help themselves, their families and their communities by quitting.
“There is a raft of help that smokers can still access.
“Stop smoking services are moving to provide telephone support, and pharmacists can provide advice on medications, but if you can’t find help locally get advice online from the Todayistheday website, and through the nightly Quit Clinic on Twitter using #QuitForCovid.”